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Practical Suggestions for Practicing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy

December 8, 2015
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By Joe Paprocki, DMin
Corporal Works of Mercy - The Corporal Works of Mercy are kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their everyday material and physical needs.
Feed the Hungry
  • see to the proper nutrition of your loved ones,
  • support and volunteer for food pantries, soup kitchens, and agencies that feed the hungry
  • make a few sandwiches to hand out as you walk through areas where you might encounter people in need
  • educate yourself about world hunger
  • avoid wasting food
  • share your meals with others.
Shelter the Homeless
  • help neighbors care for their homes and do repairs
  • support and/or volunteer at a homeless shelter
  • support and/or volunteer for charitable agencies who care for the homeless, build homes, and provide support in the wake of natural disasters
  • advocate for public policies and legislation that provide housing for low-income people
  • consider becoming a foster parent.
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Clothe the Naked
  • go through your drawers and closets and find good-condition clothes and shoes to donate to agencies that provide assistance for those in need
  • participate in programs that provide towels and linens for hospitals in distressed areas
  • Volunteer to work at a clothing drive or at a shelter where clothing is distributed to those in need
  • Support the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society
Visit the Sick
  • spend quality time with those who are sick or homebound
  • take the time to call, send a card or an e-mail to someone who is sick
  • volunteer to drive patients to medical appointments and treatment facilities
  • volunteer at a hospital
  • assist those who are full-time caregivers for family members
  • cook and delivers meals to the sick and homebound
Visit the Imprisoned
  • support and/or participate in ministries to those who are incarcerated
  • support programs sponsored by agencies that advocate on behalf of those who are unjustly imprisoned
  • support job-training and educational programs designed to rehabilitate prisoners
  • pray for the families of inmates
  • support programs that provide holiday gifts for prisoners and their families
  • support efforts that seek the abolition of the death penalty
Give to the Poor
  • take some small bills or loose change (or coupon books if you prefer not to carry cash) with you to hand out to people you encounter who are in need
  • throw your coin change into a jar and periodically donate it to a charity
  • if possible make a regular monetary donation to a charity that tends to the needs of the poor.
Bury the Dead
  • be faithful about attending wakes/visitation
  • support or volunteer at a hospice
  • participate in a bereavement ministry
  • spend time with widows and widowers
  • take friends and relatives to visit the cemetery
  • support ministries that offer free Christian burials to those unable to afford one
  • offer daily prayers for those with terminal illnesses and for those who have died
  • send Mass cards to families of those who have died.
Spiritual Works of Mercy - The Spiritual Works of Mercy are kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their everyday spiritual and emotional needs.
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Instructing
  • commit yourself to learning about the Catholic faith and share your understanding of the faith with others and with those who welcome it
  • share your insights, knowledge, and skills with others, especially friends, fellow students, coworkers
  • take time to “tutor” those who are just beginning tasks
  • read good literature and encourage others to do the same.
Advising
  • be courageous yet compassionate in calling people and institutions to be faithful to Gospel values
  • intervene in situations in which people are clearly doing harm to themselves or others
  • respond to negative and prejudicial comments with positive statements
  • put an end to gossip by walking away; set a good example for others.
Consoling
  • work at being optimistic and avoiding cynicism
  • respond to cynicism, skepticism, and doubt with hope
  • be articulate about your own hopes
  • ask people about their hopes and support them in trying to attain them.
Comforting
  • walk with others through their pain
  • offer words of encouragement to those who seem discouraged
  • offer positive words to fellow students or coworkers who are having a difficult time with their tasks
  • be present to those who are struggling or in emotional pain or despair
  • offer sympathy to those who are grieving.
Forgiving
  • pray for those who have wronged you and pray for the courage to forgive;
  • ask forgiveness from others;
  • let go of grudges; go out of your way to be positive with someone you are having a difficult time with.
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Bearing wrongs patiently
  • work at being less critical of others
  • overlook minor flaws and mistakes
  • give people the benefit of the doubt
  • assume that people who may have hurt you did so because they are enduring pain of their own
  • pray for those who have wronged you.
* Some of the above suggestions need to be adapted for young children and should not be practiced without the supervision or accompaniment of an adult

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